The government's attempts to 'blame refugees' has helped to fuel violence and intimidation against refugees, leading anti-racism groups have said.

It follows violent scenes outside a hotel in Knowsley which was being used to house asylum seekers. Videos shared on social media appeared to show a police van on fire and officers carrying riot shields in the area.

Thirteen males and two women, aged between 13 and 54, have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.

Asylum seekers had to watch a large and threatening mobilisation against them that was 'fuelled by the anti refugees rhetoric of the government' said campaign groups.

Stand Up to Racism & Unite Against Fascism said, the Home Secretary Suella Braverman's rhetoric about ‘invasion’ so appalled Holocaust survivor Joan Salter, that she confronted her with the dangerous and murderous outcomes that can be produced by inflammatory words.

The organisation said that recent events may be repeated in forthcoming anti refugee mobilisations in Rotherham (18 February) Skegness (25 February) and elsewhere.

Weyman Bennett, Stand Up to Racism co-convenor, said: "We have defeated the fascists and racists who have attempted to divide the communities in the North West but we should not fall for the lies that refugees, most desperate and dispossessed, are the source of any our problems - they should be made welcome.

"This Government has disgusted me. They have tried to blame refugees - we should not accept any of these lies , we should unite.'

MP for Knowsley, George Howarth, said: "The misinformation about refugees being feather-bedded is untrue and intended to paint a picture that does not at all represent the facts.

"The people of Knowsley are not bigots and are welcoming to people escaping from some of the most dangerous places in the world in search of a place of safety.

"Those demonstrating against refugees .. do not represent this community. We are not like that and overwhelmingly behave with sympathy and kindness to others regardless of where they come from."

Paul Jenkins of Unite Against Fascism, said: "Fascist and far right organisations were involved in the protest against refugees who are staying in the Hotel.

"Anti-racists are the majority - in Knowsley, on Merseyside, and across the North West Region. "We have a proud tradition of defeating the far right - we kicked fascist BNP leader Nick Griffin out of his North West Seat MEP seat, and stopped former EDL leader & BNP member 'Tommy Robinson' from winning a North West MEP seat in 2019.

"Fascist organisations offer no solutions to ordinary people. Their real agenda is to try and whip up racism in an attempt to divide our communities. We oppose antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism. Never Again!"

On Saturday 18 March #ResistRacism demonstrations are being organised with the TUC in London, Glasgow and Cardiff.